|Plum Porter Grand Reserve in Stormbird, Camberwell, a highlight of December.|
Good evening folks!
I'm still behind with my pub blogs, I still need to tell you about Lincoln and the dog-end of Preston (technical term) but on the eve of my first pub-tick of 2019, I thought I'd better bang out this review.
December was a record breaking month to complete a record breaking year. 38 pubs achieved in Dec, the average is 29.6, very pleased with that as it can be a tough month with people 'wanting to do stuff'. Luckily, BRAPA makes me more of an outcast year on year so the majority have given up on me as a lost cause, and that is cause for celebration, probably!
|Great little sesh with Martin & Christine Taylor on 15th, another December highlight|
Over the course of 2018, I visited 447 pubs in the Good Beer Guide, a few of those were pre-emptive but came good in the 2019 edition. There are still a few 'floaters' (another technical term) which I'm hoping will make the 2020 edition of the good book. It beats my 2017 total of 401, and is rather lizard (liver) shattering but I've never felt better or younger, honest.
The most gruelling part of the year coincided with 'Project Calypso' when I was sent to London, followed immediately by a holiday in Dorset. So in the period 14th Sept - 12th Oct, I visited 83 new pubs. I feel kind of proud, kind of ashamed.
Oh, and I had a late boost late on New Year's Eve when writing my end of year blog, I realised that during the September GBG 'cross-ticking' exercise, I'd totally forgotten I'd been to two pubs in Shifnal, the White Hart and the Plough, both brilliant but the problem is, Shifnal feels more West Midlands / Staffs than Shrops so I totally overlooked it.
Upshot is, I go into the New Year's ticking tomorrow on 1446 pubs in the current Good Beer Guide, 2417 in all editions.
It's very rare I say this but there were more pubs I disliked than liked in December '18, but here are three I thought were special in their own ways:
1. Board Inn, Bridlington
2. Jono's, Ilford
3. Adam & Eve, Homerton
Special praise too for Joiners Arms in Lincoln, Monks Walk in Beverley and PR1 in Preston, enjoyed these quite a bit too.
|Sooty and cheeseboard at Board Inn, Bridlington, a wonderful pub|
And here are three experiences I particularly wasn't a fan of:
1. Hop & Barley, Lincoln
2. Wellington, Preston
3. Marine Hotel, Hornsea
But on a stronger month, stuff like Chesham Arms (Homerton), Travellers Friend (Woodford Green), Black Horse (Rampton) could be in bottom three, bit harsh on the Chesham I guess but the man who got cross with me spoilt it!
|Can you enjoy a pub with a sign like this and a door that doesn't close? Of course not. Black Horse, Rampton|
Feb 29th (leap year!)
May 8th, 11th, 15th, 18th, 21st, 22nd.
June 18th, 19th, 26th
Aug 9th, 21st, 23rd.
Oct 22nd, 26th.
Dec 5th, 10th, 25th (Christmas!), 27th.
So now you know. Let us hope in 2019 I can chalk some of these off!
As we all know, pubs don't open in January. Partly because it is cold, hard to get motivated, and a nice time to leave the country. And partly because they probably assume everyone is doing Dryanuary or some shite and they may as well not even bother trying!
Not that I'm resting on my laurels, but after a top December, 2018, and a forthcoming 'BRAPA winter holiday' in Dorset in Feb, I'm happy to take it steady. After all, with 25 ticks in 2018, Jan was my least productive month. I'd take that now! On Sat 19th, I'm controversially thinking of just going to my old fave Barton Arms before Aston Villa away and staying there!
Tomorrow (5th), I'm doing a London crawl based on my favourite joke .... all will be revealed. And I hope to get back to West Yorkshire Friday evening ticking on 11th with a trip to Sandal and Osset.
On the 12th, my penultimate trip to Cambs with Martin Taylor, mopping up 5 or 6 pubs in the North of the county around the Peterborough area.
No idea on 26th yet, it'll be Father BRAPA's birthday trip so he gets a say but a lot depends on what happens to Hull City at Millwall in the 3rd round of the FA Cup this Sunday. If we win, do we get a nice juicy away tie? If we lose, can I really be arsed with Blackburn? Besides, if Blackburn win tomorrow (they're at the Mags so unlikely), it isn't an issue anyway. Phew, tough! Still, I have serious unfinished business at the Black Bull on Brokenstone Road and part of me would love to get there and stick two's up at it after last seasons nightmare!
|Blackburn when I was young & unscarred by BRAPA. Adelphi, Aug 2012. Scary but brilliant pub.|
2019 Preview / Strategy
This is the time of year, of course, where I look a bit further ahead and think about what I want to achieve BRAPA-wise in the coming year.
I guess the first real landmark will be the 1500 mark which will represent one third of the Good Beer Guide. I'm 54 pubs away at the time of writing so I reckon late Feb / early March might be the time to get the bunting out and declare me king of the world. I wonder what pub it'll be, hopefully something suitably low-key and amusingly dire.
An afore-mentioned holiday back for leg two of Dorset is my first big trip of the year, in mid Feb. This time, and in light of the wintry season, I'm making sure I'm there over a weekend and staying in the less rural south east, so expect to find me in Poole, Bournemouth, Wareham and (squeeeeek) Worth Matravers and the like. I cannot wait!
Another big landmark will be on April 5th, to celebrate BRAPA's 5th birthday, the twildy little bastard. I'm off back to where it all began (errrm, Bedford) for a couple of nights doing a few Beds pubs that weren't in the Guide circa 2014-16 when I was focusing on the county. We'll have a week of celebrations, I'm going to do a quiz so you can see how BRAPA you are!
In June, I'll be back in Cornwall for a week for my third year of ticking the county, mid-Cornwall this time. But this year, I'm going to learn lessons of 2018 and NOT book a second holiday straight after cos it nearly killed me!
And my other main holiday will be in October, not sure where yet. It may be nice to get to somewhere I've just not done at all, kind of keeping an eye on Dumfries and Tayside areas.
In terms of counties, I'm nearly finished with Cambridgeshire and as with Berkshire, February should be the month I complete it. It's been a decent county in truth, bit like Berks, some great stuff, some totally crummy rubbish, better than Bucks and Beds, but not really West Mids, West Yorks or GMR levels.
That means by March, I can focus on somewhere new. Ideally, this will be Cumbria, as daunting as it looks. Problem is, Northern Rail continue to frustrate and train expert Tom thinks I'd be better cracking on with Derbyshire and waiting to do Cumbria in that mythical time in the future when the UK train system is the envy of all the world! I'm also going to get a foot hold in Durham in 2019, which sounds a bit like I'm invading which I kind of am.
Friday evening-wise, for now I'm looking to polish off the last 5 West Yorkshire ticks (providing blogs are up to date, hence why I aren't out tonight). Then I'll seamlessly move onto South Yorkshire so by April kind of time, I should be able to get back over to Greater Manchester area and spend spring and summer evenings cracking on with pubs over there.
So there you go, it'll be busy whatever but the GBG won't tick itself, see ya in Barking in a few hours! Woof.